Daytona Milton Keynes March 11th 2007
Round 1 OEKC Summer Series
Daytona Milton Keynes seems to have stepped up a grade since we last visited, with an efficient computerised signing on system by Box Tech. Unfortunately there's not much they can do about the lack of pit space but the grid size of fifteen and our early arrival at 07:30 at least meant we got a trackside position for our pits.
For the record, the weather was breezy, dry and not very cold - say about 12C. All in all pretty much ideal with some nice sun coming through.
We had finished putting the new kart together the previous evening having spent all day working on it and since we were using old tyres again the only thing we had to do was sort out our weight. We got it more or less right but we had some leeway as they were allowing a variance of 2kg because the scales were a bit inconsistent.
James got a mouthful and then a faceful of petrol as we sorted out the fuel plumbing, but eventually we got it right and the engine fired up for the first time ready for practice.
Practice for us was a question of running in the engine which Thomas accomplished getting up to near full speed for the last couple of laps as he learnt the circuit.
James took over for the last ten minutes and concentrated on not blowing up the engine and trying to discover what was round the next corner, and how sharp it was, and which direction did it go in and watch out for that bump...
By the end of the session he was only slightly more clued up and had inadvertently qualified us in 11th.
Thomas started the race for us, and held position for the first three laps as he got used to driving the circuit at full speed.
On lap four he eased past Le Maverick and his lap times came down into the 63s
10th lasted for two laps until the handicaps were applied which dropped AJB and Red Mist in the Billands down the order.
He then overtook FDM Racing following a braking miscalculation which resulted in a nudge for FDM, and we were up to sixth and looking good.
Miscalculations apart the new Hi-Spec brake was working really well - a world apart from the old one, with much more control and feel.
On lap 42 he overtook Know Idea and then a lap later we had the first period of full course yellows as Le Maverick crashed. TT Sport and Appliance Maintenance came in for pit stops putting us up to 4th.
Released to start racing again, Thomas got his fastest lap of this session two laps later at 61.914s
We stayed in 4th until James signalled Thomas in for more fuel and the driver change after a bit over 65 minutes racing.
It wasn't a wonderful pit stop at 150sec but it was OK and in fact we retained 4th position as other teams stopped at more or less the same time.
It wasn't until five laps later that TT Sport came back past us, dumping us down to 5th, as James continued round the learning curve.
However Red Max Racing had one of those accidents one just wants to forget about as quickly as possible, bending an axle and breaking a wheel, which allowed us back up one place.
James meanwhile was battling with Lost in Transit who although they were a couple of places behind us were going at a similar speed and we swapped places on the track several times before James got in front and stayed there.
On lap 121 James got the fastest lap of his session at 61.766 but three laps later he could see that the fuel situation was getting pretty bad. He signalled he wanted to come in as Thomas put out the board.
He had been racing for about 67 minutes and as he hit the beginning of the long straight the fuel ran out. The kart managed to get up the hill and then round the hairpin but utimately died completely as he approached the pit lane bleed-off.
Thomas quickly arrived to push onto the weighbridge and then on to the fuelling bay.
In all we had lost two laps in addition to what we would expect to lose in a normal driver change and we had lost three places to 7th
We were getting mixed up with the Billands of Cannonball and Red Mist Racing now but over the next half dozen laps Thomas managed to get and stay ahead of both of them, helped by some extent by their further pit stops and we were up to 3rd overall.
On lap 177 Thomas suddenly found another two seconds a lap and got our best time of the race at 61.366s and having found the extra speed he proceeded to do several more 61s laps before James called him in deliberately late after about 70 minutes racing. There's no doubt that Thomas was getting better mpg out of the Rotax than James, although Thomas probably had more full course yellows.
This time the pit stop was better at 132s and James was into his final stint with about 64 minutes to go. He should have had enough fuel for this sort of time, but there wasn't going to be much leeway.
Times were slower in this session and the best James could manage was a 62.0s.
There was another full course yellow - or at least James thought there was - but TT obviously didn't think so, and took the opportunity to zap past and off into the distance before James woke up. They were running 1st at the time and a couple of laps ahead of us, so it made no difference.
We were solidly in third but that didn't prevent James from almost throwing it all away by going a bit too deep into the first part of the esses and bouncing off the tyre wall on the far side. He did no damage and didn't stop, but it was a close run thing.
Five laps from the end, and James could see that his fuel was becoming critical. He slowed to increase his lap time by two or three seconds and was relieved still to be moving when the chequered flag came out. By the time he got back to the pits the fuel tank was empty.
It was an excellent race and a very good result, everything considered, which we should be able to improve on with a more familiar circuit and some tuning of the new chassis. The circuit itself is one of the most entertaining ones we have been to and we very much hope that we will be able to race again there when the series returns to Milton Keynes on August 5th.
Meanwhile we'll try to do the next one on April 15th at Whilton, hopefully having had a day's testing on the circuit before then.
Results are here.
R e d S t r i p e R a c i n g
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